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1 October 2020

Best free antivirus software

We rate free antivirus software downloads for malware protection and ease of use, so that we can tell you the top best free antivirus software suites around.
Woman using mac laptop
Andrew Laughlin

Equipping your computer with virus protection doesn't have to cost a penny – we've pinpointed the best free antivirus downloads that impressed us most in our lab tests. These free tools even outperformed a number of paid-for security suites.

Although these free security software packages are pretty basic, they will help you locate, prevent and remove malware and viruses. The best have extra features, such as a firewall or anti-phishing protection, although they may lack the breadth of features of the best paid-for antivirus software packages

See the best free antivirus software package below. 

Best free antivirus software

Does free internet security give enough protection?

Downloading free antivirus software is certainly tempting, and the options above will help to keep your computer free from malicious malware.

But you shouldn't regard paid-for packages as a waste of money – you can get Best Buy security software for around £30 per year, which isn't much to pay for the extra peace of mind it offers.

To help you decide whether or not to dig into your wallet for virus protection, check out our expert guide on how to choose the best antivirus software.

Is Microsoft Windows 10 Security (Defender) good enough to rely on? 

Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows 7 was rightly criticised for its lack of effective protection. If you use Windows 7, we advise you to go with our Best Buy antivirus packages, including free options. 

When Windows 10 launched, Microsoft introduced Defender, now called Microsoft Windows 10 Security, and after a fairly rocky start, it's now a viable line of defence against malware and other threats. 

Microsoft Windows 10 Security (Defender) isn't quite good enough yet to trouble our Best Buy and top-scoring antivirus packages, however. It lacks effective protection against phishing attacks, where a cybercriminal sends a message with the intent of tricking you into revealing personal information, such as your password or bank details. It also doesn't have the creature comforts of a proper, full-blown antivirus suite. Our Microsoft Windows 10 Security (Defender) review has all the details. 

To be sure of the top-notch, all round protection that you need, go for one of the free antivirus packages above, or browse the paid-for versions for extra features and functions.